A distinctive line of tall Monterey pines in Goulburn will be spared the chainsaw following spirited council debate.
At the most recent meeting, Cr Andrew Banfield failed in his bid to remove all six pines lining the northern side of Park Road, beside the Eastgrove playing fields.
Instead, one of the trees will be felled and the remainder pruned.
The pines, ranging in height from 13 to 21 metres, were assessed by an arborist following a request to the council, community facilities business manager Rob Hughes reported.
“While none of the trees are showing signs of impending failure, all present a risk during adverse weather conditions to pedestrians, sports groups (particularly at the cricket nets), parked motor vehicles, passing traffic and other surrounding infrastructure,” Mr Hughes wrote.
“The location of these trees is a flood prone area, with little to no protection from the predominant high winds from the south.”
The arborist’s report, by Tarlo based Reparative Vegetation Consultants Pty Ltd, found that while they were at low risk of failure, the trees were in decline and “the risks would only increase with time.”
“Pruning may be an option to reduce risk for some of the trees but will only be a temporary solution and will not improve appearance,” the report stated.
There were no obvious signs of disease, some showed signs of sap weeping and cankers and six trees had a history of “unpredictable” branch failures, the consultants found.
“Weighing up the balance between public safety, economic considerations and preserving the area’s amenity, we believe in this case the removal of the Monterey pines, replacement with more suitable species, and implementing some or all of the tree protection measures suggested, will provide the best outcome in the future,” the consultants stated.
But Mr Hughes recommended that the council remove one of the trees and that the remainder be pruned of deadwood, over-extended branches and monitored. Further, staff would explore opportunities to undertake more planting in the area, in line with the Avenue of Honour project, recognising Goulburn’s former servicemen and women.
Cr Peter Walker was satisfied the measures would keep people safe.
“Council is responsible for this at all times. We don’t have to cast our minds too far back to the accident that happened in Belmore Park with a tree falling on our snail (art piece),” he said.
“I think this is a good move….There are a lot of kids running around there on a Saturday and this is something that needs to be done.”
But Cr Banfield argued it was better to remove them all now and replace them with the same trees (cabbage gums) lining nearby Blackshaw Road.
“They’re less invasive and they’re a native tree,” he said.
“To remove just one will leave a big gap and look unsightly. I’d like to see an avenue planted there and dedicated to somebody. We can make it far more visually appealing.”
Cr Walker baulked at this, saying the council had sought “expert advice” and was now ignoring it.
“I find it very hard to go against a recommendation based on safety and choice of replacement by people that are versed in that way,” he said.
Cr Leah Ferrara supported him.
“I’d find it a waste of money to remove perfectly good trees and put others in there and I think a lot of the community would feel the same way,” she said.
Cr Banfield’s amendment was lost and the majority voted for removal of just one tree and monitoring of the remainder. Further plantings in the area will also be explored.